« ZurückWeiter »
THE CHRISTIAN, IN DEATH.
“ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of
that man is peace.”—Psalm xxxvii. 37.
YOU have heard of the manner in which a distinguished writer, and a Secretary of State, expired. 6 Come," said Addison, to a young nobleman of rather infidel principles, as he entered his dying chamber; 66 Come," said he, taking him softly by the hand; “Come, and SEE HOW A CHRISTIAN CAN
This has always been admired as a noble expression of composure, and faith, and zeal.
and faith, and zeal. And to this the Poet alludes when he says
“He taught us how to live, and, O! too high
If we object to any thing in the address, it is not that it came from a character whose religion some may think too undecided ; for candour should lead us to conclude that he was what he professed to beespecially at a period so awful—but that the subject of the eulogy should have been the Author. " Let another praise thee, and not thy own mouth ; a stranger, and not thy own lips.” The exclamation may indeed have been designed, not to glorify the man, but his religion ; and to recommend from his
own experience what could support and refresh, even when all other succours and comforts failed. Yet we would rather the friend or the minister had laid hold of the approaching observer, and leading him into the room, said, “ COME, SEE HOW A CHRISTIAN CAN
Such an office your Lecturer has to perform this morning. “ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. "
“Fly ye profane, or else draw near with awe.
66 Mark the perfect man, and behold the righteous: for the end of that man is peace.” mise three remarks.
The First, regards the character— The perfect man. This may seem discouraging ; but it really is not
If it intended absolute purity, no creature could claim the title. “ Behold, he put no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly.” If it intended actual exemption from all moral infirmities, none of the human race, no, not even of the sanctified part of it could be included. “For there is not on earth a just man that liveth and sinneth not." « In many things," says an Apostle, “ we offend all.” And our Saviour teaches us to pray for daily pardon as well as for daily bread.
To say that the Christian will certainly be complete hereafter, and that he is complete in Christ now, true. But the character refers to something present and personal. Bishop Lowth, in his admirable prelections on the Hebrew poetry, remarks how commonly it abounds with parallelisms—the second member of the verse never expresses a new idea, but always repeats the sentiment contained in the first. It may enlarge or enforce or explain it; but never gives it up for another. According to this rule, the character is not only called perfect, but upright. And the latter attribute is explanatory of the former—the perfect man is the upright—one who is upright in his transactions with his own soul-upright in his dealings with his God-upright in his conduct with his fellow-creatures-one “ whose rejoicing is this, the testimony of his conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he has his conversation in the world.”
The Second regards the subject of attention.The end of this man. Every thing pertaining to his character is deserving of notice : his birth, his relations, his conduct, his condition. But here our eyes are fixed on his death.
66 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”
The Third regards the testimony concerning his end—it is peace. This word was not used by the Jews as it is with us. With us it always suggests the idea of reconciliation and concord, after variance and strife; or of serenity of mind as opposed to some kind of conflict. With them the term was significant of good at large: prosperity, welfare, happiness.
Thus we are commanded to pray for the “ Jerusalem.” Thus Joseph says, “God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Thus Artaxerxes superscribes his letter, “Peace, and at such a time.” Thus the disciples were to say as they entered, 6 Peace be to this house." Thus we are to under: stand it, as used by Simeon when he took up the Saviour in his arms, and blessed God and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” “My desires and hope are accomplished ; I am now happy ; satisfied with favour, and filled with the blessing of the Lord”—And this is the meaning in the words before us, “ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” This accords with our design this morning, which is to view the Christian,
There are four things in the dying of the Christian I would call upon you to observe-Its Prospect. Its Experience. Its influence. Its Issue.
1. The PROSPECT IS NOT ALWAYS PLEASING,
II. The ACTUAL EXPERIENCE IS COMMONLY MUCH INDULGED AND DISTINGUISHED.
III. It is OFTEN PECULIARLY USEFUL BY ITS
IV. It is ALWAYS SAFE AND GLORIOUS IN THE
I. It is NOT ALWAYS PLEASING IN ITS PROSPECT.
There are some indeed who are able to look forward to the scene, not only without reluctance and dread, but with resignation and pleasure. They contemplate death as their deliverance, their victory, their triumph. In all their dissatisfactions and trials they seem to say, “Well; all will be soon explained, rectified, completed.
When a few years are come, I shall go the way I shall not return." Thus Dr. Gouge was accustomed to say, “ I have two friends in the world : Christ and death. Christ is my first, but death is my second.” Such a Christian may be compared to a child at school. The little pupil is no enemy to his book; but he likes home; and finds his present condition not only a place of tuition, but of comparative confinement and exclusion. He does not run away; but while he studies, he thinks with delight of his return. He welcomes every messenger to him-but far more the messenger for him. And though he may be a black servant, he says, “Well, he will take me to my father's house."
But such cheerfulness in the prospect is not invariably nor commonly the feeling of good men. When David says, “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” he speaks of this anticipation as an attainment; and intimates that the fear which he was enabled to defy was much connected with the event itself.
Here is a difficulty-not indeed with regard to the unconverted, To them we say, death may well be the king of terrors and it is. The dread of it prevails more deeply and generally than they are willing to acknowledge. The apprehension of it often makes them superstitious and credulous: and they find a prognostic of their fate in a dream, in the howling of a dog, the croaking of a raven, the ticking of an insect, and a thousand other absurdities. are they to guard against every thing that would